It’s been pretty quiet here since our guests have left! We stayed a few additional days in La Playita doing some boat projects. We were keeping an eye on the weather, and El Niño is having a pretty rough effect on our sailing plans.
El Niño for us means the pacific is pretty dead. There’s very little wind almost anywhere right now. While that’s not too bi of a deal on this first passage to the Galapagos, our next passage to French Polynesia will be 21 days. We need to hope there’s enough wind to get us there, since we don’t carry that much fuel.
We finally decided that we didn’t want to wait on Panama City, so we filled up our diesel at Flamenco Marina. In addition to topping off our tank, we filled up our 50 gallon fuel bladder and three 5-gallon jerry cans.
From there we went off to Las Perlas, a quiet archipelago about 35 miles from Panama City. We first stopped at Isla Chapera. It was beautiful, but more remote than we thought – no cell phone service. We still had a few things we needed Internet for, so after a night or two we headed over to La Contadora, the biggest town in the Perlas.
No free wifi, but good cell phone service meant we were able to wrap up a few things (like handling our 2015 taxes!) and keep an eye on the weather. And then we just…vegged. David’s done a few small projects, but mostly we’ve been reading, exercising, and watching some tv.
For the weekend though, La Contadura got a bit more full. There were several yachts (in the 75′ range) complete with water sports – jet skis and ski boats. Oddly enough, in the center of a bunch of anchored sailboats, a fishing vessel plunked down. They were a bit loud, smelly, and I’m pretty sure they were causing a slick over the water, so we decided to up and head further south.
We anchored at Viveros Island yesterday, and although we were in a large bay, the only other boat here was a catamaran tucked behind an island from us and out of sight. Our 360 view was nothing but beaches (some black sand) and jungle shores.
Today, we leave for the Galapagos. We are quite nervous, as there are a lot of regulations. We expect to be boarded by 5-10 government agents. Our hull will be inspected for cleanliness, and if it’s not good enough, we will be sent back out, 70+ miles offshore for a cleaning. We had to have a fumigation certificate done in Panama. The Galapagos has cost us about $1,200 for all our formalities.
And to top it all off, the cruising world is rather divided. About half of cruisers think it was awesome and totally worth the hassle. The other half find it a beauroceatic nightmare, a money-grubbing scheme, or, to quote a friend who recently left, “underwhelming”.
Wish us good winds and happy government officials!